DENR-XI diver, stakeholders conduct video documentation of underwater environment along IGACOS' Paradise Island to Costa Marina Stretch
With the aim to gather video footages of the underwater environment in Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) specifically from Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort (PIBR) to Costa Marina Beach Resort, divers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-XI (DENR-XI) led by Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel A. Evasco together with the Philippine Commission for Sports Scuba Diving Commissioner Fred Medina and representatives from Carabao Dive Center, Paradise Island Beach Resort and the Batacan, Montejo and Vicencio Law Firm conducted a diving activity and underwater video documentation of marine environment last October 12, 2022.
The diving team which was led by Marine Biologist Dr. John Michael Lacson of PIBR, covered approximately 690 meter-stretch of Pier 1 (jetty port of PIBR), Stations 1, 2 and 3 down to the southern area of Costa Marina Beach Resort.
This vital pursuit was also witnessed by representatives from Ecoteneo and the Local Government Units of IGACOS.
𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘁𝘂𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗮’𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗲𝗰𝗼𝘀𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺
Pier 1 to Station 1 is an area situated in front of the PIBR. From 5 to 25 feet, hard coral families were observed in the area such as Branching Acropora, other massive corals such as the brain corals, helmet corals and the turbine coral. Also observed were giant clam species and large numbers of Damselfishes, Cardinalfish, Porcupinefish and Wrasse.
Seagrass species were also observed from 5 feet to 30 feet such as the 𝘏𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢 𝘰𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴, 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘪 and 𝘌𝘯𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘰𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘴.
However, an increase of large soft corals like 𝘚𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘵𝘰𝘯 𝘴𝘱, 𝘓𝘰𝘣𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘵𝘶𝘮 𝘴𝘱 and 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢 𝘴𝘱. can already be observed between Station 1 to Station 2. These soft corals were seen attached to dead hard corals and other dead hard corals with algae.
According to the Coral Reef Alliance (n.d.), soft corals are soft and bendable and often resemble plants. They do not have stony skeletons and are non-reef-building corals.
Declining water quality is one of the main reasons of coral reef degradation and shifts in benthic community composition to higher soft coral abundances have been reported for many degraded reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific (Baum G, et.al 2016)
On the other hand, hard coral colonies such as massive helmet corals (𝘗𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘴 𝘴𝘱𝘱.), eye corals (𝘍𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘱), branching cabbage corals (𝘗𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘱) and the blue coral (𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘦𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘦𝘢) were also observed scattered thinly in the area. Large mounds of dead corals were also recorded within the 15-20 feet depth of Station 1 and 2 and the sediment in this area is sandy-coral rubble substrate.
Soft corals dominated the area between Station 2 and Station 3, having dead hard corals as their foundation. Rubble substrate, which is made up of pieces of dead corals, is also substantially wide.
Also, seagrass species like 𝘊𝘺𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘢 𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘢, 𝘏𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢 𝘰𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘌𝘯𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘰𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘴 and 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘪 were observed in the shallow depth of the area. At 10 feet below, there is a table coral (𝘈𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢 𝘴𝘱.) observed and brown algae of the Sargassum family.
In Station 3, which is in front of Costa Marina Beach Resort, seagrass species such as 𝘊𝘺𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘢 𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘢, 𝘏𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢 𝘰𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘌𝘯𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘴 and 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘪 were observed within the shallow depth. But going south of the said beach resort, the area was observed to be dominated with soft corals lying on top of dead corals in a substantially-wide rubble area.
𝗢𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝘁 𝗣𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝟴𝟴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝟴𝟵
As the diving team descended to 50 feet at Points 88 (7° 5' 59.138" N 125° 39' 45.726" E) and 89 (7° 5' 58.533" N 125° 39' 48.946" E), a flat terrain of rubble substrate was observed. Even with a strong underwater current, the team was able to document thin patches of hard corals and soft corals with presence of rubble substrate and algae within the 30-35 feet.
Basing on the Annexes of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility for Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project, points 88 and 89 are the points where the proposed column for the bridge will be constructed.
The team scanned the northeast side of point 88 at the depth of 15-20 feet and they observed patches of live corals, soft corals, coral rubble substrate, sand, silt and algae in the area. They have also observed big dead corals that were covered with algae and fishes mostly “pata”.
Approaching the depth between 10-15 feet, the team already observed patches of seagrasses and soft corals community, presence of fish pot, live hard corals and big dead corals with algae, rubbles substrate mixing with sand and algae.
At the surface of Point 89, the team observed that the bottom, around 5-8 feet, is a mixture of rubbles and algae. Also observable in the area are the seagrass community, live corals, soft corals, fishes and dead corals covered with algae.
At the depth of 3 feet at Point 89, there is a presence of seagrass community, patches of live hard corals, patches of soft corals and mix of sand and rubble substrate.
Judging from the underwater topography, dense soft corals, strong underwater current and high nutrient load due to the presence of drifting mucus-like particles allegedly algae colonies, it appears that the stretch from Station 1 up to Costa Marina is exposed usually to strong underwater currents.
Divers from the DENR-XI has also experienced the same strong current on the said area on January 27 and October 8, 2021.
Pier 1, however, is sheltered from this underwater current due to the canal formation which was observed leaning away and is manifested by the growing Branching coral Acropora and thin encrusting 𝘔𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢 𝘴𝘱. These said coral species morphology has high tendency to break under strong underwater current energy.
Observed further from Station 1 to Costa Marina jetty were large mounds of dead massive forming Porites spp. It can be hypothesized that this underwater ecosystem is once filled with hard corals of species forming massive lifeforms such as but not limited to 𝘗𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘴 𝘴𝘱𝘱., 𝘎𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘱. 𝘌𝘶𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘱., 𝘗𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘨𝘺𝘳𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘱 among others.
These massive corals can withstand underwater current due to their massive and thick coral skeleton and dome-shape morphology. However, human interventions which caused impeding water flow and disrupting long shore sediment transport and long shore current coupled with extraction of coralline rocks used for the establishment of concrete structures and the effects of eutrophication, may somehow change the underwater community structure from hard coral formed reefs to the existing soft corals ecosystem.
Soft corals due to their morphology can also withstand strong underwater current. They also derive food from catching plankton drifting in the water column rather than depending to sunlight for photosynthesis. Plankton on the other hand derived their food from the rich organic particles or algae in the water column. Algae derived their nourishment from nutrient rich waters.
Also, the presence of invertebrates such as the filter feeding Crinoid featherstar, and detritus feeders sea urchins and chocolate chip seastars proved that the area has high organic load, nonetheless, the presence alone of soft corals is also an indicator.
Strong underwater current can be attributed to the topography of the channel which is influenced by the flow of the water during high and low tides or from the upwelling and downwelling transport in and out of Davao gulf.
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Department of Public Works and Highways Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility – Output 1 – Roads and Bridges Samal Island – Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project – Annexes 5 October 2020
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